Jump to content
  • entries
    10
  • comments
    109
  • views
    2,333

A ShiaChat Reunion?

Ibn al-Hussain

5,817 views

:salam:

As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for :confused:.

As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree :blush:), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.

This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.

On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries. 

Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.

Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.

@Baatil Ka Kaatil  @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.



96 Comments




Recommended Comments

48 minutes ago, hayaah said:

The reason why shiachat was alive back then is because it was new. So all the members were exploring SC at the same time. Whereas now; there is a wide range of members in terms of oldest to newest, meaning everyone's SC journey is at different levels. 

That is part of the reason, however I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine. What did the mods think was going to happen? That kind of behaviour, first of all comes across as rude, and secondly doesn't allow the user to develop a taste for what this forum is supposed to be about.

There are of course other issues, such as facebook being such a popular platform.

Share this comment


Link to comment
14 minutes ago, Ali_Hussain said:

That is part of the reason, however I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine. What did the mods think was going to happen? That kind of behaviour, first of all comes across as rude, and secondly doesn't allow the user to develop a taste for what this forum is supposed to be about.

There are of course other issues, such as facebook being such a popular platform.

Hardly anyone uses facebook these days....

Share this comment


Link to comment
6 minutes ago, hayaah said:

Hardly anyone uses facebook these days....

I suppose it depends, statistically, more people are logging into facebook than ever before.

I was basing my answer on having spoken to a brother who used to be very active here, I was trying to get him to come back, he said that he was happy on fb as Islamic pages were more active than sc.

Share this comment


Link to comment
37 minutes ago, Heavenly_Silk said:

Could it also be that most of the "popular" topics have been discussed repeatedly, people may feel like there is not much to contribute to anymore?

I don't think that is the case. Since I've come to the seminary, I realized that there are a plethora of topics that are being discussed or can be discussed, or a lot of new insight that can be shed on topics, even on previously discussed topics. Most of these discussions are taking place, but they never make their way into the Western world for various reasons. 

For example, the role of history in our understanding of jurisprudence and its application, the role of ethics and human rights in our application of Islamic law, the role of the intellect in our day to day life - how balanced do we have to be between using our intellect and relying on faith. These are topics that require some degree of knowledge - but previously we had a decent number of members who would have been able to engage in these discussions.

However other social and family related issues like role of women and men in a society and within a family (old topic, but a lot of new light can be shed here, given recent changes in society's understanding), dealing with domestic violence and abuse, the future of our children's education in the West, the doubts and challenges millennials are facing etc. there are all these issues that can and should be discussed with more innovative perceptions. Some of the blog posts Br. @Qa'im makes on his blog are of extreme importance today. They should perhaps be discussed further on the forums.

Obviously you also have the Qur'anic and Hadith related topics as well that never get old and there is always new developments happening there, but once again it just seems there are not enough people of caliber left to engage in these sort of discussions.

This has been my observation.

Wassalam

Edited by Ibn al-Hussain

Share this comment


Link to comment
6 minutes ago, notme said:

I do think the site went through a period of excessively heavy handed moderation and people got banned or left. I'm not in contact with anyone from the old times anymore, but I'd love to know how some of them are doing. 

Amen. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
6 hours ago, hayaah said:

Hardly anyone uses facebook these days....

Every university student uses facebook, If you don't, I don't care you're not at university :D (Slight exaggeration)

Share this comment


Link to comment

We've been discussing ShiaChat's decline ever since I became a moderator in 2014, and the main reasons we came up with at the time were (1) Message forums are dying altogether - they're all dying, and people are preferring to use WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Tumbr, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, Viber, etc.; (2) Features at that time were not as user-friendly as most social media outlets, (3) Women felt unwelcome due to stalking and messages from guys, (4) Lack of new and unique conversation.

We tackled some of these issues by upgrading the forums, fixing the search feature, introducing Facebook integration, creating a blogs feature, making more use of the SC Facebook and making an SC Twitter, bringing the PM and chatroom post requirements down, and increasing our number of female staff. These were good moves, but more needs to be done. I'd like to see us bring visiting guests/scholars, but the people we have asked were unwilling. I also think we should add an IM feature that members can activate, where members can chat 1-on-1 with other online members (like Facebook chat), but still give the option to not get instant messaged and to block users if necessary.

There's no real way to bring SC back to its former glory. In the early days, forums were the only form of social media, there were no smart phones, and people were using MSN on their computers. I'm still active on Facebook and Skype, but most of my friends have pretty much moved on from those as well. Twitter, Instagram, and Whatsapp are just not for me.

Share this comment


Link to comment
9 hours ago, Ali_Hussain said:

That is part of the reason, however I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine. What did the mods think was going to happen? That kind of behaviour, first of all comes across as rude, and secondly doesn't allow the user to develop a taste for what this forum is supposed to be about.

There are of course other issues, such as facebook being such a popular platform.

We have got to make registering and posting questions easier on this board. In the past you could register without having such strict restrictions.

 

Edited by uponthesunnah

Share this comment


Link to comment

I'm not entirely convinced forums are dead, given reddit, and other popular online forums. I think the problem we have is multifaceted, and there are many factors which users here have posted and are legitimate.

But at the same time, i see a very simple solution we can begin to work with:

1. Make it easier to register and post on shiachat. Remove as much red-tape as possible, while balancing user safety. I say many new users register, see the red tape, and just leave. 

2. Advertise the forum. Many people aren't on shiachat because there has not been any concerted effort to recruit members to the forum.

3. Be a little bit more lax about banning.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I think it's easier to register and participate than ever before. Now you can register through your FB account, and you no longer need 50 posts to use the chatroom or PM.

Share this comment


Link to comment

I remember back then we used to play some shooting game (was it Deus Ex?) with all SC teams. It was fun. I have been and still am the estranged uncle of SC. :D I have enjoyed my stay very much, being in touch with such fine people. I have also learnt a lot from SC. Sometimes I ask SC'ers for prayers when I find myself knees deep in poop and it works.

Perhaps one of the reasons why there are less posters of the intellectual kind is because of lack of serious and deep discussions about religious and social issues and therefore less opportunity to learn and share new things. Perhaps because nowadays people get offended more or feel violated and insulted when challenged? Or with age we feel more shy to discuss things. I don't know.

Anyway it is good to read from you brother. I also badly miss the old gang and brave souls like So Solid Shia who faced the fires of moderation defiantly till they got burnt. :D But in any case I think the need is to facilitate proper debates and discussions to provide content for the seeking minds because issues like moderation rules will always be all but imperfect.

Share this comment


Link to comment
23 hours ago, Ali_Hussain said:

I believe that the forum died due to moderation issues, there were many, many occasion in which new members would come and ask a question only to have the thread locked and them to be told to just use the search engine.

1. In the introduction phase few people knew about the site and there were not many users

2. In the growth phase the topics were being discussed for the first time. So there was tons and tons of debate. Over time for each topic the number of new angles that could be covered was reduced. So the scope for debate and discussion was reduced also (see point 3).

2a. That scope would be reduced firstly because when people google a topic it's more likely to give them specific threads on shiachat that have covered it before. And they'd get their answer directly from an old thread.

2b. If they still persist in asking, as moderators it's our job to show them threads where there may already have been well-researched discussion. This is really important from a hygiene point of view.

3. For each topic as the scope for general and superficial debate is reduced, there remains scope for more detailed and in-depth discussion. But most laypeople do not have the knowledge (or inclination) for this because it is boring. People from seminaries could fill the gap, but they choose not to (see my final point).

Well-informed posters tend NOT to keep posting ad nauseam. And it's our job as moderators to refer people to those answers and ask them to come back if they have an angle that has not already been covered.

Someone seeking truth will understand the reasonableness of this approach. A troll will leave. Good.

There is a contradiction in your post. You say that people in the seminaries don't visit Shiachat and yet also criticise moderators for shutting down threads that are likely to be repetitive, trivial and/or titillating.

Surely the latter policies should attract the more serious sort of person who attends a seminary?

To be honest if there is a contingent of ex-Shiachatters in the seminaries, I am afraid their absence says more about them than it does about this site and it's not favourable.

Edited by Haji 2003

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×